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You're Wearing That?: Understanding Mothers and Daughters in Conversation
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You're Wearing That?: Understanding Mothers and Daughters in Conversation

3.5 of 5 stars 3.50  ·  rating details  ·  806 ratings  ·  161 reviews
Deborah Tannen's #1 New York Times bestseller You Just Don’t Understand revolutionized communication between women and men. Now, in her most provocative and engaging book to date, she takes on what is potentially the most fraught and passionate connection of women’s lives: the mother-daughter relationship.
It was Tannen who first showed us that men and women speak different...more
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Published January 24th 2006 by Random House (first published January 24th 2005)
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I made it to page 119 of this book. I went in wanting to learn some techniques to break through the rut of typical mother-daughter quarreling patterns, instead I found a rehashing of why they happen. And a not particularly insightful one. It's not that the things Tannen is describing aren't true, they are just kind of obvious. There's a huge chapter explaining the concept that mothers and daughters tend to compare themselves to each other. WOW.

And sometimes Tannen's explanations of the reasoning...more
Many people often tell me that I need to change the way I interact with my mother. Yet very rarely am I given solid advice from people who understand psychologically or otherwise what a struggle this is and how to even begin to change. A relationship with a mother and daughter is already unique not to mention the added dynamics that life throws in. This book was a tool for me; a stepping stone in reframing the way I interpret comments and behaviours thereby affecting the way I respond to them. A...more
I don't know if I should count this as read or not. I listened to about 2/3 of it, but when it was due at the library I didn't care to finish so turned it in. It had some great insights into adult mother/daughter relationships, but I guess I was looking for something more applicable to my daughters and me now.
Wonderful study on mother/daughter relationships and communication
Вероятно всяка жена може да напише собствена книга за отношенията с майка си. А по-късно – и за отношенията с дъщеря си. Моята я е написала Дебора Танен. Почти през цялото време, докато четях, имах чувството, че ме е разпитвала подробно – за това, как се разбирам (по-често не се разбирам) с моята майка. Успя да покрие всички проблемни точки, че и няколко в допълнение. За тези допълнителните наистина съм благодарна, че не съм ги преживяла. Видях, че нашите отношения не са нито най-лоши, нито един...more
This is a really insightful book about relationships between mothers and daughters. It helps to understand the relationships between mothers and daughters when we know that we see each other as reflections of ourselves. I had to laugh when I read the chapters where mothers and daughters expressed their conflict over hairstyles and clothing. It seems for some mother/daughter pairs this doesn't end at the end of the daughter's teenage years. Another aspect of the relationship dynamic is that the m...more
Jan 07, 2009 Elaine rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: mothers and daughters
Recommended to Elaine by: I read about it
Mothers are viewed by their daughters through an intricate, specialized window. It's very easy for Mom's and daughters to misunderstand their daughters. In communication there is a message and a meta-message. Tone, sarcasm, body language all contribute to the meta-message. the message might be, "I don't care.", but there can be many meanings to this. Often it's best for Mom's to not say anything. The daughters are looking for encouragement. The tables pretty much reverse at some point.

I read the...more
Excellent opportunity to make sense of the complicated relationships that you are in--that whole 'can't see the forest for the trees' dilemma. As one of three sisters, it's always interesting to me that my sisters and I have such different relationships with the same mother...and to see how she has a different relationship with her own mother (as compared to her sisters). Now with a daughter of my own, I'll try to remember some of Tannen's talking points--keeping us seeing each other for who we...more
Rebekah Sheppard
One point take away: Stop being judgmental on how your daughter, or any child, looks. Focus on the most important thing: the relationship.

When mother's communication is focused on how daughter looks via clothes, hair or weight (the Big Three that cuts across all cultures) then the conversation has little hope to get where is needs to be: on where the daughter is emotionally and spiritually.

This continues on to the next generation. When a (grand)mother is judging how her granddaughter looks or t...more
I read Tannen's books in college a zillion years ago, so when this was published in 2006, I immediately bought it and gave copies to all the women in my life. Today, after having listened to it a handful of years later, I'm still impressed by Tannen's ability to clearly demonstrate patterns and pitfalls in sociolinguistics, all the while entertaining the reader.

However, as much as I have an appreciation for plain language science writing, I was hoping this would be a tad more sophisticated on t...more
Amanda Coussoule
I picked this up hoping to gain insight into how to improve the way I talk to my 8 year old daughter, but it is instead a book focused on grown women and their relationships and communication with their own mothers. While some of it is interesting and there are occasional insights that are helpful, it seems more like a self-therapy session for the author who both subtly and overtly makes mothers out to be the problem or the bad guy or the oppressor or one of many other various negative stereotyp...more
Jul 17, 2009 Rebecca rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: women
Recommended to Rebecca by: Clifford Mayes
Why do moms and daughters hurt each other with words? Read this and understand the relationship you share better - how to say what you mean and understand each other. A joyful but honest look into a very complicated relationship.
The title captures the misunderstandings that can cause conflict between mothers and daughters. Dr. Tannen collects the most amazing exchanges and seeks healing for all. Communication and relationships remain challenges.
A pretty good review of how mothers and daughters communicate. (Only the title is pointed via Mother TO daughter and my daughter was much more likely to say that to me than I was to her!). I did enjoy the read.
Similar to my last review, I'm not sure how much reading this book added to my knowledge after reading so much of Deborah Tannen's other work. On the other hand, I recognized a lot of the patterns she described in my relationship with my mother. And I recommended the book to my mother, because I thought she would appreciate the moments of "Aha!" where Tannen describes something eerily familiar, and explains why it was a source of major friction. I hope I can use these lessons to be more patient,...more
This was tremendously interesting but not really helpful in that the book assumes that there is genuine affection deep with the bonds of mother and daughter. That the mother could be an unfeeling woman who has no understanding of what love means beyond herself, that it is only words used to gain something, win something is not considered. Or that in time the daughter sees the mother merely as a duty. So well and good if there is love in the relationship but no help otherwise. Having my toxic mot...more
I read a couple of Tannen's books 15-20 years ago and was not terribly impressed. For as much as I am sure they were based on sound academic work, and although I was aware a lot of people found them useful in their lives, they seemed to me at the time overly stereotypical about gender and culture and did not ring at all personally true. I was thus pleasantly surprised when I found this book very relevant to both my communication patterns with my mother and my daughter. Not a lot of suggestions i...more
Maybe it's because I'm a guy and these things are not intuitive to me, but I found Tannen's book absolutely fascinating. Her insights are fresh and provocative. The way she describes the conversational patterns of mothers and daughters--while new to me--is absolutely in line with most everything I've observed.

New things I learned:

We all want to be as close as we desire, but no closer. This is universal. Too close and we feel exposed/vulnerable.

There are three topics, "the big three", which are...more
I remember Deborah Tannen from a linguistics class in college and picked this up at the library, as my mother is moving close by and I need to re-frame how I view our relationship. To put it nicely.

As a daughter and as a mother, I found Tannen's "big three" powder kegs to be spot on: clothes (my Goodwill shopping drives my mother nuts), hair (my mother buys me spa certificates to get my hair cut for every holiday and birthday... I use them for my six year olds hair), and weight. She also adds "m...more
Dec 24, 2012 Lisa rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: females with mother or daughter troubles
Shelves: nonfiction
I am interested in why people act the way they do, so I was naturally drawn to this book.

Deborah Tannen zeroes in on the types of problems many mothers and daughters have and offers suggestions to ease hurt feelings.

Most of the problems illustrated seemed a matter of common sense to me, but I do know of many people who have problems with their mothers or mothers that cannot please their daughters.

If you have a relationship problem with your mother or one of your daughters, you should read th...more
I have five sisters so I was drawn to read this book written by a linguist who interviewed then analyzed hundreds of women about their experiences as sisters. While I read this book, I felt it validated my experience as a sister and also helped me to think about other perspectives my sisters may have. The author was very reasonable and made sure to quantify her claims. She didn’t make sweeping generalizations, but instead touched upon the themes of closeness and competitiveness, how important bi...more
Literary Mama
Tannen, also the author of You Just Don't Understand: Men in Women in Conversation and You Were Always Mom's Favorite: Sisters in Conversation Throughout their Lives, is a linguistics professor at Georgetown University, not a child psychologist, but someone who deconstructs conversations and their meanings. You're Wearing That? is based on her research, combined with case studies and conversations between moms and daughters that Tannen observed over a period of time.

In the case of the clothing c...more
Mar 13, 2008 Ann rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Mothers, daughters and communication are the subject of this work by linguist Deborah Tannen. She suggests that mothers and daughters have a different kind of bond from other bonds such as mother/son, father/daughter, man/woman, etc. and that this uniqueness is at the root of communication misunderstandings between the two.

As with her other books for the layman, she gives many examples to illustrate her points and shows how a word or phrase can mean one thing to a mother and is heard as somethin...more
In a similar vein to Tannen's book on family communications, "I only say this because I love you: How the way we talk can make or break family relationships throughout our lives", this book targets in on mothers and daughters specifically. It builds on the axis of "connection" and "control". When you are a child, your mother controls a great deal about your life. As you grow up, your mother should release the amount of control and move towards connecting with you as an adult. Obviously this does...more
Alex Baker
I have to, first and foremost, admit that some of the reason I rated this book as only three stars had to do with the fact that it probably wasn't written for someone like me. Although I have a very close relationship with my mother, and many of the things in the book did, in fact, apply to my relationship with her, the focal point was the relationship between mothers and daughters, not mothers and sons. With that said, I still thought there were some really good things in the book. I particular...more
This book reminded me mostly of one of my textbooks in Interpersonal Communication 101 in college, right down to the transcribed conversations included to make the author's points. Tannen posits that mothers and daughters have three big issues they tend to clash over (hair, clothes, weight), which, while it may be true for others, isn't now and never has been a big issue for me, though I do clash what I assume is the average amount of time with my own mom and mother-in-law. (I would say for me,...more
Aug 25, 2007 Zanny rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Daughters who's mothers are more concerned over their hair than their health
First off, I must say that this book has been EXPERTLY titled. If I had a nickel every time my mother asked me...
This book contained several clever observations and helpful insights, perhaps the most helpful being the simple fact that I am NOT the only daughter out there who was occasionally [continually] frustrated and even amazed by my mother's daunting attention. I was able to read about mother-daughter talks that resonated so like those I recall having had with my own mother [at least once]...more
Just like the author's goal in writing this book, I ended up understanding a great deal about the different views and interpretations that mothers and daughters tend to have. As it seems like it naturally happens to all, the interpretations tend to be opposite ends of the spectrum between mothers and daughters. What made me appreciate this book was the fact that the author had done her research by interviewing many mothers/daughters as it is mentioned often throughout the book. If I remember cor...more
Lilí Lanz
Although I felt that Tannen might be over-optimistic, I do agree with most of the ideas of this book, and I do believe that its information might help female readers to improve their relationships with their mothers. One thing, though, Tannen never talks about neglectful mothers. I mean real neglectful, unloving mothers. She assumes that that doesn't happen, and that even if a daughter feels neglected, behind her mother's action there's always caring, protection and love (with ithe ambivalent em...more
It's always good to be reminded of the metamessage, even if at times I weary of listening for it. It's nice to think others are doing the same, rather than reacting as if I see flying pink elephants. There are some nice examples that normalize what could otherwise be interpreted as singular experience. Deborah Tannen is legend; I'd love to see her analysis in an updated volume, taking in the context of the expanded internet world - with Skype,texting,blogs and twitter all providing platforms for...more
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Deborah Tannen is best known as the author of You Just Don't Understand, which was on The New York Times Best Seller list for nearly four years years, including eight months as No. 1, and has been translated into 29 languages. It was also on best seller lists in Brazil, Canada, England, Germany, Holland, and Hong Kong. This is the book that brought gender differences in communication style to the...more
More about Deborah Tannen...
You Just Don't Understand: Women and Men in Conversation That's Not What I Meant! Talking from 9 to 5: Women and Men at Work You Were Always Mom's Favorite!: Sisters in Conversation Throughout Their Lives I Only Say This Because I Love You: How the Way We Talk Can Make or Break Family Relationships Throughout Our Lives

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